In an interview Tuesday afternoon, King confirmed his intention to run, the first announced challenger to the mayor.
“I don’t know if anyone else has stepped forward, but I am definitely running,” King said.
King has been critical of the administration on a number of its top initiatives, and those same concerns are prompting him to run, he said.
On the same day that Landrieu announced a budget that includes no funding for the Sheriff’s Office consent decree, King said he is frustrated by the time and money the mayor has spent fighting the federal order — especially after Landrieu initially said he invited the Department of Justice to New Orleans in the first place. Both the NOPD and Sheriff’s Office consent decrees should be fully funded, King said.
“Now you’re paying attorneys to fight what you’ve already agreed to,” King said. “Either you spend the money implementing both decrees, or you spend the money fighting them and spend the money paying judgments against us because of the improper police actions or improper actions occurring inside the jail.”
Early in Landrieu’s term, King was one of the most outspoken critics of the plan to create the New Orleans Recreation Department Commission, and he said that the planned public-private partnership has not worked. Millions of dollars in private funding were promised if the change was approved, King said, but instead the city pools had to close this summer before children even returned to school.
“We were told there would be such an improvement at our parks. That didn’t happen,” King said. “In my opinion, that’s been a failure.”
King said he has a number of concerns about the state of public education in New Orleans, but one problem the city government could solve would be the long commutes children face to and from schools, many getting up before dawn and home after dusk. Those children could be issued passes on the public buses instead of waiting on the school’s yellow buses, he said, improving their health and protecting them from violent crime.
“That’s something we could take care of right now,” King said.
Ultimately, King said, recovery money is still flowing into New Orleans, but those contracts are too often being awarded to out-of-state companies. Meanwhile, large areas of the Seventh, Eighth and Ninth wards have changed very little since Hurricane Katrina, he said.
“We need to make sure our local and DBE contractors get the proper share of those contracts,” King said. “All the money that’s flowed through our city, just a portion of that remains in the city. But all of us would be doing better… The more we’re able to build our tax base, that’s the more revenue to pave our streets.”
King said he looks forward to debating the mayor on the issues, and that the discussion will be healthy for the city.
The Landrieu campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on King’s candidacy Tuesday afternoon.
City elections in New Orleans will be Feb. 1, with any runoffs necessary on March 15. Qualifying for candidates runs from Dec. 11-13.